Wednesday, 16 July 2014
E8 Day 4: Kenmare to Killarney
The difference that a well tended path makes I cannot overstate. You see the photo above, this epitomised the first three days of walking on the Beara Way. Whilst it was beautiful the paths were very badly tended and signposted. When it rained, they became bogs. When it didn't, it had only just stopped raining so they were slippy without clear flat 'ledges' for your feet to safely follow. Now look at the picture below...
I woke up with full force of a cold that had been brewing for days. But starting clean and with a full hearty breakfast in me helped me get going, and by the end of the day I had walked away from ailment and left it behind (for the moment). A boring long slow incline on a straight country road began the hike. I was glad for this. The difficult terrain of previous days had given me a new found love for tarmac. It did go on though. And on. And on. And then, to my despair, DOWN, before rising to the top of a ridge of mountains and a more cobbled path which turned out to be the Old Kenmare Road.
I ate a snack at the top and proceeded into one of the most pleasant experiences of the expedition. The weather had cleared and warmed. I strolled lazily down a solid but old path, which was crossed a couple of times by a fast stream. Once at the bottom of a wide bowl with only one building in sight for miles around, I think I found one of the most peaceful places on earth. Yes all that I had walked through before was a ranging torrent of water and mud and cold, and ahead I was such to have more of it, but right then and now I was surrounded by quiet.
Things changed again. The old path became more distinct as I went along. Old, mossy dry-stone walls began to follow it. I could almost imagine being caught up by the horse drawn carriage of some local gentry as I began again to go up toward the final peaks of the day; the Eskhamunky Gap between mountains Cromagan and Stumpcommeen (All these spellings, I think, are incorrect). The picture at the start of the post is from this section, where the distinctive track became bog, but this wasn't a problem because of the blessed wooden planks that ensured a dry passage on to the woods of the Muckross Estate.
This was becoming an easy day. I put one foot in front of the other and I didn't slip, feel the cold of mud up to my ankles or indeed the pull as the earth desired to keep my boots! It was glorious! And on arriving to the Muckross Estate I knew that the going would be good from here on till the end of the day. The estate is a contrast of artificial English gardening in south-west Ireland. A real treat for the feet and a chance of scene for the eyes, but at the same time somewhat out of place. It has a forest, which in itself is a novelty where much of the other trees of Ireland were cut down for fuel at various points in it's history. And it finally has acres and acres of good grass and lawns. This second aspect announced the immanent approach to Mucross Hall, a 'modest' stately home, and a chance to rest with a green tea. I did so then proceeded onto my next night's accommodation in the Paddy's Palace hostel in Killarney where I would enjoy a day off.
As I lay in my bunk bed reflecting on how things had gone so far I just wished that I had more of the Kerry Way to walk on and not the uncertainty of a new path; would it be as maintained as the dream I had just traversed, or as wild and boggy as on Beara?